infertility problems

Fertility Factors for Life

“One in six Australian couples has infertility problems”

Infertility is the inability of a couple to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse, or the inability to carry pregnancies to a live birth.

Many couples suffering infertility problems can be successfully treated with lifestyle changes, or medical or surgical interventions. For a fertile couple in their twenties having regular unprotected sex, the chance of conceiving each month is only 25%. Infertility is shared equally among men and women.

Common causes of infertility

Causes of infertility are many and varied and involve male, female or a combination of factors. These include problems with:

  •         the production of sperm or eggs
  •         the structure or function of male or female reproductive systems
  •         hormonal and immune conditions
  •         sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia

There are degrees of infertility. The majority of infertile couples are actually sub-fertile – they produce eggs and sperm but have difficulty conceiving due to disorders such as hormone imbalances and problems of the reproductive tract. Cases of total infertility, where no eggs or sperm are produced, are rare.

Key factors affecting fertility

  •         Age
  •         weight
  •         smoking
  •         alcohol use
  •         timing
  •         nutrition
  •         caffeine consumption
  •         exposure to certain toxins.

The Your Fertility website (https://yourfertility.org.au) contains information on fertility, including information on factors affecting fertility. By paying attention to certain lifestyle factors, the chances of fertility and having a healthy baby are improved.

A woman’s age is the number one factor affecting a couple’s likelihood of conceiving, as the number of healthy eggs your ovary contains will dramatically decline as you age – especially once you are over 35.

Key ways to improve fertility

  • Stop Smoking

Men and women who smoke often take longer to conceive than those who do not smoke.

– Women who are exposed to other people’s smoking are at increased risk of infertility.

– Male and female smoking significantly reduces the chance of conception and live birth rates, as well as increasing the risk of miscarriage.

Your friendly local pharmacist can discuss the risks of smoking with you and provide advice on strategies, information and treatments such as nicotine replacement therapy to help with quitting smoking.

  • Limit caffeine intake to 1–2 cups of coffee per day.
  • Not drinking alcohol is the safest option for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Alcohol can affect both male and female fertility.

– In men alcohol can cause impotence, reduced libido and affect sperm quality.   

 Heavy drinking can reduce the chances of having a healthy baby.

  • Exercise

The Your Fertility website has information on the impact of exercise on fertility.

   Regular moderate exercise is beneficial for both men and women

   Moderate regular exercise can improve fertility

   High intensity and high-frequency exercise may reduce fertility

   A healthy body weight improves the chance of conceiving

   Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day

   Talk to your doctor about the best types of physical activities and exercise for you.

  •  Monitor your menstrual cycle

Women can keep a daily record of their menstrual cycle to help recognise when they are more fertile in order to plan a pregnancy. The Your Fertility website has an online ovulation calculator and a tool to help you gauge your fertility potential.

At Fresh Therapeutics our pharmacist can advise on key fertility factors. They can provide you with products used to monitor your menstrual cycle in order to help you recognise the ‘fertile window’ – the best time to try and conceive. This is different for every woman.

In addition, we provide the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Self Care Fact Cards on titles including; Pregnancy and ovulation and Menstrual chart, as well as lifestyle topics such as Alcohol, Staying a non-smoker, and Weight and health.  We also stock and provide advice on a range of vitamins and minerals for the pre and post conception period.

Acknowledgement: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Self Care Health Column

 

hearing impairment

Hearing is Precious and Fragile

One in six of all Australians have some type of hearing loss.

August 20–26 is Hearing Awareness Week.

This week is a time for greater community awareness of hearing impairment across all ages. It is a time to look at ways to protect your hearing from future damage due to loud noise, particularly at work.

Hearing Awareness Week is a major event for the Deafness Foundation working with organisations that have similar goals. Events will be organised as well as community screenings for hearing throughout this week.

Those living with hearing loss will have an opportunity to share their experience and knowledge as well as create a greater understanding of their needs and aspirations. It is a chance to explain to Australians what the risks are when exposed to excessive noise, including in the workplace.

Your wondrous ear

The ear is a complex piece of equipment consisting of many parts – not just the visible exterior section – and is responsible not only for hearing but for maintaining balance as well. The outer ear captures sound waves which causes the eardrum to vibrate and the tiny bones in the middle ear to move too. The vibrations pass on to the inner ear to cause tiny hair cells to move. This then causes electrical signals which are sent to the brain, and then deciphered to sound.

Your ears, in combination with your sight and senses, helps maintain balance. The vestibular system, in the inner ear, contains tubes and sacs that are filled with fluid. When movement occurs, this fluid also moves which bends specialised sensory cells. This then leads to an electrical signal to the brain, which is interpreted as movement. Your eyes and muscles can then adjust to help your body maintain balance.

At times problems can occur with this complicated system, due to many causes:

  • ageing
  • ear wax blockage
  • a head injury or trauma
  • loud noise for too long
  • loud noise from industrial environments such as building sites, transport and mining for example using power tools
  • loud noise from exposure to loud music, car racing
  • medications – such as anti-inflammatories and certain antidepressants.

The Hearing Awareness Week website identifies a host of possible causes of noise which can damage hearing – from jack hammers to Formula One racing, food processors and car horns. It describes the maximum safe exposure time without ear protection.

Visit their website and find out ‘how loud is too loud?’ with respect to your favourite electrical device or music event.

‘Noise destroys – turn down the volume’ is the message from the Australian Tinnitus Association. Tinnitus is a condition where noises or ringing in the ears or head occurs. Many of us experience tinnitus from time to time.

Common risk factors

  • ageing
  • a genetic (inherited) disorder
  • high blood pressure or narrowing of the arteries
  • smoking – can induce tinnitus
  • gender – men are more likely to experience tinnitus.

Possible aggravating factors for tinnitus include:

  • some medicines, such as anti-inflammatory and certain antidepressant medicines
  • caffeine (found in tea, coffee, cola drinks or chocolate)
  • alcohol may worsen tinnitus
  • smoking narrows the blood vessels that supply vital oxygen to the ears. Quitting smoking can help with managing tinnitus.

There is no cure for tinnitus but we can learn how to manage it.

Tips for healthy hearing

  • Avoid too much noise
  • Buy appliances and devices with a low noise rating
  • Wear hearing protection such as earplugs or noise cancelling headphones
  • Walk away from noise
  • Remove earwax carefully
  • Check medications for hearing risks
  • Don’t smoke
  • Have your hearing checked.

When to see your doctor

  • If you notice any deterioration of your hearing
  • Feel as though people are mumbling all the time
  • If you have any buzzing, ringing, hissing, clicking or roaring
  • If you have sudden hearing loss
  • Often misunderstand what people are saying
  • Get complaints that you have the radio or television too loud.

Treatment for common ear problems is often relatively easy, provided the cause can be identified early on. At Fresh Therapeutics pharmacies we provide advice on a range of options. We also provide the Pharmaceutical Society Self Care Fact Card entitled Ear problems that can help with hints on how to reduce the risk of ear problems and how to treat those problems effectively when they do occur.

Acknowledgement: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Self Care Health Column

Medicines and Breastfeeding

Medicines and Breastfeeding 5 things you need to know about medicines and breastfeeding

Breast is best. However if you are breastfeeding, ask our pharmacists at Fresh Therapeutics before you take a medicine (prescription or over the counter), natural remedy or complementary medicine as:

1. Some medicines can reduce milk flow or production

2. Many medicines pass from mother’s bloodstream into milk supply but usually in amounts too small to be harmful to baby

3. Some medicines that pass into breast milk can affect baby and some can be harmful to baby

4. Some herbal remedies, natural products and complementary medicines can pass into breast milk and affect baby

5. Medicines in creams on the breast may be ingested by baby

For more advice and information see us in-store, check out the full article about medicines and breastfeeding below.


MEDICINES AND BREASTFEEDING – WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK

The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week. It is celebrated every year around the world to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies worldwide. This year’s theme is ‘Sustaining breastfeeding together’. This theme focusses on working together for the common good.

Australian statistics from the 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey showed that although most babies (96%) in Australia were initially breastfed, only 39% of babies were exclusively breastfed to 3 months, and only 15% were breastfed to 5 months.

‘Exclusive breastfeeding’ means the child receives only breast milk (including expressed milk) and no other fluids, food or water (with the exception of vitamins, minerals and medicines where necessary). The National Health and Medical Research Council’s Infant Feeding Guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants until 6 months of age, with combined complementary food and breastfeeding until 12 months of age. Breastfeeding provides health benefits for both breastfed babies and breastfeeding mothers.

Let’s consider taking medicines when breastfeeding.

Medicines can be defined as either prescription (only available with a prescription from a healthcare professional such as a doctor), over-the-counter (available without a prescription, often from a pharmacy) and complementary (e.g. herbal, natural and alternative medicines). Most medicines pass into breast milk but usually only in very small quantities. These quantities are generally too small to be harmful to the baby.

Many women will take some kind of medicine when breastfeeding. Some breastfeeding mothers may need to take medicine regularly to treat a medical condition. Others may take medicine occasionally when required to treat a sudden, limiting condition such as a headache, cough or cold. It is important when using any medicine while breastfeeding to consider the benefits to the mother compared with any risk it may pose to the baby. Discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist.

Before taking any medicines, ask the pharmacist if they are safe to take while breastfeeding and confirm the correct dose. Check the active ingredients as the type and strength may differ between brands and you do not want to take more than is required. If you are unsure, always check with the pharmacist. Medicines such as simple pain relievers (e.g. paracetamol and ibuprofen) are safe to take by breastfeeding mothers in the lowest recommended dose.

Many cough and cold medicines contain a combination of ingredients to treat the symptoms of coughs and colds. Some of the active ingredients in these preparations may interfere with the mother’s ability to make milk (e.g. oral decongestants), or cause side effects in your baby (e.g. codeine, sedating antihistamines, or oral decongestants). Avoid cough and cold preparations that contain a combination of ingredients when breastfeeding. Instead, if needed, it is sometimes safer to use cough and cold preparations with only one active ingredient to treat a specific symptom of your cold. Other ways of relieving cough and cold symptoms that do not require taking medicines include resting, drinking plenty of water, gargling warm, salty water or drinking honey and lemon drinks to soothe the throat.

Some medicines should not be taken when breastfeeding. Chemotherapy agents (drugs for cancer), ergotamine derivatives (e.g. bromocriptine), gold salts, iodine, amiodarone (used for heart rhythm problems), radiopharmaceuticals (for nuclear medicine scans), and illegal or street drugs should not be taken when breastfeeding.

At Fresh Therapeutics we provide you with advice about taking medicines when breastfeeding. We subscribe to the Royal Womens’ Hospital Pregnancy and Beastfeeding Medicines Guide. We may be able to suggest alternative ways of helping relieve troublesome symptoms such as using a nasal spray rather than taking a tablet. Always make your doctor and pharmacist aware that you are breastfeeding if you are being prescribed or taking medicines.

We also have more detailed information on medicines and breastfeeding in the Pharmaceuticals Society’s Self Care Fact Card Medicines and breastfeeding available at Fresh Therapeutics Pharmacies.

Remember: always talk to a pharmacist, doctor, or other health professional before taking any medicine when breastfeeding and take the exact dose prescribed.

Acknowledgement: Pharmaceutical Society Self Care Health Column


Get your freebies! Fresh Therapeutics is a collection point for both: Mother To Be Bounty Bags + New Mother Bounty Bags while stocks last.

Fresh Therapeutics has mother and baby services including Baby Weighing ServiceBreast Pump AdviceMedicines and Breastfeeding Advice. At both locations, we offer specialised compounding services for babies or children that have difficulty swallowing or tolerating a manufactured medicine. We work with you and your doctor to customise a medicine to meet the individual needs of your child – it may be sugar-free, alcohol-free, preservative free, colour or dye free or simply, easier to take.

Dental Health Week

Dental Health Week

Dental Health Week, which this year runs from 7 to 13 August, is the Australian Dental Association’s major annual oral health promotion event. It aims to educate Australians about the importance of maintaining good oral health in every aspect of their lives.

Dental Health Week has three main objectives:

  •         Promote oral health education and awareness in the general community.
  •         Motivate and educate dental professionals to promote oral health.
  •         Encourage ongoing collaboration within the dental profession.

This year, the theme of Dental Health Week is ‘oral health for busy lives’. This week aims to help people understand and appreciate that regardless of their individual life circumstances and how busy they are, caring for teeth and gums can be done. Care for teeth and gums may be seen as optional and something extra to do, and can be forgotten if more urgent tasks arise. However, caring for teeth and gums is vital. This week, the Australian Dental Association encourages people to take time to brush and floss their teeth properly, and to make booking an appointment with your dentist a priority.

Many people think that it’s perfectly normal for their gums to bleed when they brush or floss. But, of course, it’s not. Bleeding is usually a sign that something untoward has happened to your body. Bleeding gums are a sign that your gums are inflamed due to disease-causing bacteria. Ignoring bleeding which results from brushing and flossing means you stand a real risk of developing a serious form of gum disease.

The two main stages of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis is an early form of gum disease that occurs when dental plaque (the bacterial film that covers the surfaces of your mouth) builds up on your teeth, particularly where the gum and tooth meet. When this happens, your gums may appear red, swollen, feel extra sensitive, and bleed easily. Fortunately, gingivitis doesn’t lead to a loss of the bone and tissue that hold your teeth in place and can be reversed with twice daily brushing and flossing, as well as regular professional cleaning by your dentist or dental hygienist.

Ignoring the bleeding caused by gingivitis could lead to the more serious form of gum disease periodontitis. The reason this disease is so serious is that it causes your gums to pull away from your teeth, forming spaces (known as ‘pockets’) that can easily become infected. Naturally your body’s immune system fights the infection, but this response and the bacterial toxins generated by the infection combine to create a toxic brew that breaks down the bone and tissue that hold your teeth in place and, in severe cases, can lead to their removal.

In addition to plaque, which is largely responsible for the development of gum disease, the health of your gums can also be affected by:

  •         smoking and tobacco use
  •         genetic predisposition
  •         systemic diseases like diabetes and arthritis
  •         stress and poor nutrition
  •         hormonal fluctuations (e.g. those experienced during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation and menopause).

Dental Health Week is the perfect time to think about to how you brush your teeth. Most people do not think much about how they brush their teeth, apart from squirting on some toothpaste and scrubbing back and forth. But as your dentist will tell you, how you brush your teeth matters a great deal. That’s because brushing plays a critical role in removing the plaque that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. You’ve probably heard that message a thousand times, but there’s a good chance you’re not brushing correctly or as frequently as you should. How often you brush, how long you brush for, the kind of technique and toothbrush you use all have a major impact on the effectiveness of your brushing. For example, did you know that you should be brushing for a minimum of two minutes, twice a day? Most people don’t come close to brushing for that long and often brush their teeth quickly and distractedly, in the middle of many other pressing tasks. Talk to your dentist if you have any questions on proper brushing technique, or if you are unsure about the best toothbrush for you.

Some medicines have side effects such as dry mouth that can affect oral health. As medicine experts our pharmacists can provide advice on how to manage these side effects. At Fresh Therapeutics we stock products to help people living with dental and oral hygiene issues, and we provide advice on these products. We also compound specialised mouthwashes prescribed by doctors and dentists.

In addition, as a member of the  Pharmaceutical  Society of Australia Self Care Program we have Fact Cards available that include titles such as Dry mouth, Mouth ulcers, Oral health and Menopause.

Come to Fresh Therapeutics for more advice and service about preventing tooth and gum disease.

Acknowledgement: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Self Care Health Column

 

Food Additive Allergies

Compounding for Food and Food Additive Allergies

compounding for food - food allergiesAustralia has one of the highest reported incidences of food allergies in the world, and the numbers are growing at an alarming rate with one in 10 babies born in Australia today forecast to develop a food allergy. Food allergy is an allergic response to particular foods or food additives. Food intolerance occurs when the body has a chemical reaction to eating a particular food or drink. Unlike food allergies, intolerances do not involve the body’s immune system. Food intolerance symptoms include headaches, bloating, wind, nausea, mouth ulcers or hives, and can occur several hours after a food is eaten.

An allergic reaction can quickly become life threatening and people can die from food allergy. It’s up to all of us to be allergy aware – to know how to minimise the risk of a reaction, to know what to do if a reaction happens, and to understand and support family, friends and colleagues living with food allergies.

Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA) is a charitable, not for profit organisation whose aim is to improve awareness of allergy in the Australian community. They do this by sharing current information, education, advocacy, research, guidance and support.

The signs and symptoms of a food allergic reaction may occur almost immediately after eating or most often within 20 minutes to 2 hours after eating. Rapid onset and development of potentially life threatening symptoms are characteristic markers of anaphylaxis.

Allergic symptoms may initially appear mild or moderate but can progress very quickly. The most dangerous allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) involve the respiratory system (breathing) and/or cardiovascular system (heart and blood pressure).

Common signs and symptoms of food allergy:

  • ·         hives, welts or body redness
  • ·         difficult and/or noisy breathing
  • ·         swelling of the face, lips, eyes, throat or tongue
  • ·         vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea
  • ·         tingling of the mouth
  • ·         difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
  • ·         wheeze or persistent cough
  • ·         persistent dizziness and/or collapse

Removing allergens from the house makes life much easier for the allergy sufferer; however this isn’t always possible, particularly if the allergen is egg or milk, often staple, healthy foods for most of the family. Always read food labels on purchasing foods and then again when about to eat them.

If you do have the allergen in your home, try these tips:

  • Wash contaminated kitchen utensils in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher.
  • Use disposable paper towelling to wipe surfaces where the allergen has been used to avoid contaminating your everyday sponge or dishcloth.
  • If egg allergic, use a sealed labelled container in the fridge to contain foods like mayonnaise, eggs, Pavlova, leftover quiche, or muffins.
  • Use a labelled basket in the fridge and/or pantry for foods that are safe for the person with a particular food allergy to eat. Place it on the top shelf of the fridge so other foods cannot spill into it.
  • Use separate oil for cooking food for the person with a food allergy.

Your doctor may recommend you carry an injectable dose of adrenaline with you at all times. Adrenaline is used in severe reactions and can be a life-saving measure. Adrenaline is available for eligible patients on the PBS and can also be bought over the counter after a pharmacist consultation.

The risk of developing food allergies is greater if you have a family history of allergic conditions. If you or your partner has an allergy, your child has a 30 per cent chance of inheriting the allergic gene and therefore could develop eczema, asthma, hay fever or a food allergy. If both parents have a history of some allergic condition, your child has a 40 to 60 per cent chance of having a child with some form of allergy.

Some medicines contain preservatives or food additives for colouring or flavouring that can cause allergic reactions in some people. Ask your pharmacist if a medicine contain a preservative or additive that may upset you. If you need a medicine that has an additive that causes a problem we can compound the medicine into a different formulation without the allergen.  Ask your doctor to contact Fresh Therapeutics to discuss the best formulation for you.

It is important to speak to a health professional about any concerns you may have. If you or someone you care for has a reaction to any food, seek medical advice. If you are worried about a serious reaction, call an ambulance or go directly to hospital.

Diabetes – Are You at Risk?

diabetes - are you at riskAt Fresh Therapeutics our trained pharmacists support people with Diabetes Type I or Type II and help people recognise their risk of developing Type II diabetes.

Diabetes is recognised as the world’s fastest growing chronic condition. The number of people with type 2 diabetes is growing in each country. In 2015, the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas estimated that:

  •         one in 11 adults has diabetes (415 million)
  •         one in seven births is affected by gestational diabetes
  •         three-quarters (75%) of people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries
  •         542,000 children have type 1 diabetes
  •         every six seconds a person dies from diabetes (5 million deaths).

Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century and also the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system. In Australia, 280 people develop diabetes every day. That’s one person every five minutes. More than 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year. The total annual cost impact of diabetes in Australia is estimated at $14.6 billion.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood. This happens if the body is not producing insulin or if insulin is not working properly. Glucose is a particular type of sugar – it is needed to provide energy for the body. Insulin is required to enable glucose to enter the body’s cells and be converted to energy. Insulin also allows glucose to be stored in muscle, the liver, and other tissues.

There are a number of different types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas does not produce insulin. This type represents 10–15% of all cases of diabetes and is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in developed nations. Type 1 diabetes is not caused by lifestyle factors. There is no cure and it cannot be prevented.

Most people with diabetes (85-90% of cases), have type 2 diabetes. They still produce insulin but it does not work as well or the pancreas does not make enough insulin. It usually affects mature adults, but younger people, even children, are now getting type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is more common in people who have low levels of physical activity or are overweight or obese, but it also occurs in people who have a family history of diabetes and people with other risk factors (e.g. increasing age or poor diet).

Less well known is gestational diabetes – a form of diabetes that occurs in pregnancy and mostly disappears after the birth. This type may be caused by the woman’s body not being able to make enough insulin or not being able to use it correctly during pregnancy. It is usually found by having a blood test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. People with pre-diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

A balanced diet and regular physical activity are key elements of preventing and managing diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases the chance of getting diabetes. While the underlying causes of obesity are complex, the resulting problems are well known; type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease, osteoarthritis and sleep apnoea are some of these problems.

It is important to take a balanced view with regard to nutrition, drawing on a range of foods rather than focusing on single nutrients as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. No single food is responsible for weight gain

Visit Fresh Therapeutics Pharmacies to learn more about diabetes and how it can be managed. If you have any of the risk factors for diabetes such as excess weight or smoking, now is the perfect time to ask our pharmacists about lifestyle changes.

At Fresh Therapeutics we offer a range of resources and support for diabetes including:

  •         diabetes screening tests with referrals to your doctor
  •         diabetes management services including monitoring of blood glucose levels, weight and diabetes medicines
  •         advice on diabetes medicines
  •         review of diabetes medicines
  •         weight management services
  •         blood glucose monitoring devices
  •         supply of blood glucose test strips as part of the National Diabetes Services Scheme
  •         quit smoking products and services
  •         health information including Self Care Fact Cards.

You can also purchase a range of products stocked by the Diabetes NSW shop at Fresh Therapeutics Broadway including:

  •         blood glucose monitors (Roche GuideÒ, PerformaÒ, Dario Smart MeterÒ, Abbott FreestyleÒ, Bayer Contour NextÒ
  •         blood glucose and ketone strips (Roche Accu-chekÒ, Freestyle Optium Ò, DarioÒ, OneTouch VarioÒ, Bayer ContourÒ, TRUEtrakÒ, CareSenseÒ)
  •         a range of sharps collection containers
  •         Lancets and Lancing devices (FastclixÒ SoftclixÒ, MulticlixÒ, CarelanceÒ,
  •         Diabetes Travel Packs (FrioÒ, MedactivÒ, Diabet-EzyÒ)
  •         Hypo treatments (GlucodinÒ,TrueplusÒ)
  •         Diaries and Test wipes (WebcolÒ Novo DiaryÒ)
  •         Needles (NovoÒ, BDÒ,  and Pens (Sanofi ClikSTARÒ, Lily Huma PenÒ, NovoPenÒ
  •         Medical Identification
  •         Skin care (Eulactol GoldÒ Heel Balm, EpadermÒ, EgoÒ, AveeniÒ)
  •         Blood Pressure Monitors (OmronÒ, MicrolifeÒ)

You can join Diabetes Australia at Fresh Therapeutics.  We provide the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Self Care Fact Cards include Blood glucose monitoring, Diabetes type 1, Diabetes type 2, and Weight and health as well information about how to engage with the NSW Health Get Healthy service.

Fresh-Therapeutics-Blog-Men's-Health-Featured-Image

Men’s Health

This year, the theme of Men’s Health Week is ‘Healthy Body – Healthy Mind: Keeping the Balance’. This theme explores the different ways men and boys are managing to keep healthy – physically and emotionally – in a busy and sometimes challenging world. From 12–18 June 2017, communities around the country will come together to create events, promotions and activities tailored to the needs of men and boys.

Men and boys face different health and wellbeing concerns than women and girls, and Men’s Health Week is an opportunity to both acknowledge their differences and look for ways to improve the health and wellbeing of men and boys throughout Australia.

There is an ongoing, increasing and mostly silent crisis in the health and wellbeing of men and boys. Due to a lack of awareness, poor health education, and culturally conditioned behaviour patterns in their work and personal lives, the health and wellbeing of men and boys is an area of concern. In Australia and in several other countries, men and boys experience significantly higher rates of addiction, violence, crime, accident and premature death in comparison to their female counterparts. Life expectancy for men is around four years less than that of women (80.1 years compared to 84.3 years).

Men also show significantly higher rates of death from cancer, heart disease, homicide and suicide. Australia has taken a leading role in establishing Men’s Health Week as a well-known and clearly-defined event that focuses attention on men’s health and wellbeing issues and stimulates health promoting activities at all levels.

The National Male Health Policy (released in May 2010) provides a framework for improving male health across Australia – with a focus on taking action on multiple fronts. It identifies six priority areas for action. These are to promote:

  • Priority 1: Optimal health outcomes for males.
  • Priority 2: Health equity between population groups of males.
  • Priority 3: Improved health for males at different life stages.
  • Priority 4: A focus on preventive health for males.
  • Priority 5: Building a strong evidence base on male health.
  • Priority 6: Improved access to health care for males.

A clear opportunity exists for health and other organisations – public, voluntary and private, national and local – to work together to focus attention on key men’s health issues and to develop practical initiatives that can make a difference to the health of Australian men.

During Men’s Health Week let’s reach out to Aussie men and boys and create events that respond to the issues impacting on the health of men, boys and their families in your local area– useful men’s health information, event ideas and contacts, as well as other resources, are available from www.menshealthweek.org.au

Most men’s health problems are preventable. What is required is a new approach to health interventions and health promotion which delivers messages to men that their health and wellbeing is important and encourages men to access health services more regularly to set up a health maintenance plan with their doctor. Many men typically do not access medical, allied health or welfare services in a timely way when their health and wellbeing is at risk. Accordingly health services need to review their way of operating and be mindful of making their services more men friendly.

At Fresh Therapeutics our pharmacists can advise on men’s health and an encourage men to have their blood pressure, weight and BMI and alcohol intake checked. We provide advice on the various local services available for smoking cessation, weight management, alcohol management and exercise. We also provide information and advice on the medicines you take.

At Fresh Therapeutics you can get more detailed information in the Self Care Fact Cards on  Men’s health, Erectile dysfunction, Exercise and the Heart, Fat and Cholesterol  and Prostate problems.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that can cause vision loss and is potentially blinding. It runs in families. If someone in your family has glaucoma, you are up to 10 times more likely to develop glaucoma. You probably have never noticed or even thought about glaucoma, as it is rarely discussed. In Australia, approximately 300,000 people have glaucoma. However, about half of these people don’t even know they have it. Generally, there is no pain associated with glaucoma, and the loss of sight is gradual. Peripheral vision (side vision) is usually affected first, and many people don’t even notice it’s gone.

In glaucoma, the optic nerve, located at the back of the eye, is damaged. This may happen if the pressure in the eye increases. Fluid in the eye should drain away, lowering eye pressure. But in glaucoma, the fluid doesn’t drain away properly, slowly destroying the optic nerve, which eventually leads to blindness. The optic nerve can also become damaged by certain medicines, such as steroids, and some medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

There are some simple things you can do to ‘beat invisible glaucoma’, such as having regular and comprehensive eye checks. These checks must include measurement of eye fluid pressure, review of the optic nerve and assessment of visual field loss. Optometrists and ophthalmologists conduct these tests.

So who should have a comprehensive eye test? Anyone who:

  • has a family history of glaucoma
  • is over 40 years of age
  • is having trouble seeing
  • has taken certain medicines, such as steroids for lung conditions
  • has diabetes
  • has high blood pressure
  • has had a serious eye injury.

The good news is that, if you are found to have glaucoma, it is treatable. Although damage to the optic nerve is not reversible, further damage to your eyesight can be stopped or slowed down. People with glaucoma are usually prescribed eye drops to lower the pressure in their eyes. Eye drops must be used regularly and exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Ask your pharmacist if you are unsure how to use eye drops. Sometimes, laser treatment, eye surgery or a combination of treatments is needed.

This year, World Glaucoma Week is 12–18 March.

At Fresh Therapeutics we encourage you to learn more about this condition. We have Pharmaceutical Society Self Care Fact Cards with information about Glaucoma and the Glaucoma Association that provides support to glaucoma suffers.  If you have glaucoma we can assist you with understanding how your medicines work, how to store and apply your drops and tell you about possible side effects.

WORLD ASTHMA DAY | Asthma Action Plan

World Asthma Day (2nd May 2017) is an annual event organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), which works with health care professionals and groups around the world to reduce asthma prevalence, morbidity and mortality.

People with asthma have sensitive airways in their lungs which can make breathing difficult when certain triggers cause the airways to narrow because:

  • the lining of the airways become swollen and inflamed, producing sticky mucus
  • the muscles around the airways tighten.

Asthma affects more than two million Australians. It cannot be cured but can be well controlled with medicines and lifestyle. This can allow you to live a normal and active life, free from symptoms of asthma including:

  • wheezing or a whistling sound with breathing
  • coughing
  • breathlessness
  • feeling tight in the chest
  • finding it hard to breathe.

Symptoms can vary over time, and often occur at night, early in the morning, or during or just after activity. Children may also say they have a sore tummy, not eat or drink as much, or may get tired quickly.

The management of asthma aims to prevent asthma symptoms. Avoiding triggers and using asthma medicines correctly can help you manage your asthma and also prevent lung damage from asthma. Many triggers can cause asthma symptoms such as:

  • allergens you breathe in (e.g. from house dust mites, pollens, moulds, animal hair)
  • air pollution (e.g. cigarette smoke, dust)
  • colds and flu
  • cold air or a drop in air temperature
  • exercise or physical activity (exercise-induced asthma)
  • certain medicines (e.g. aspirin, anti-inflammatory pain relievers, beta-blockers, echinacea, royal jelly)
  • strong smells and fumes (e.g. chemicals, paints, perfumes, cleaning agents)
  • emotional upset, stress, anxiety
  • some foods and food preservatives, flavourings and colourings.

Visit your doctor or health clinic regularly so they can assess your asthma symptoms, review your asthma management and medicines, and help you write an Asthma Action Plan for when your asthma gets worse.

You can control your asthma well by managing the factors that trigger it and by using asthma medicines correctly. Most asthma medicines are inhaled (breathed) into the lungs.

The main types of asthma medicines are called relievers and preventers. Relievers are short-term medicines that open airways quickly by relaxing the muscles around the airways. Preventers are long-acting medicines.

Asthma makes the lining of your airways inflamed (red and swollen). Preventers help to reduce the inflammation and reduce the amount of mucus in airways. They also make airways less sensitive to asthma triggers. They can prevent asthma symptoms and lung damage if used every day.

Relievers:

  • help relieve asthma symptoms within a few minutes. Their effect can last for 4–6 hours (short-acting)
  • should be used only ‘as needed’ for quick relief
  • may be used before exercise, to prevent exercise-induced asthma.

Some inhalers contain a combination of a corticosteroid preventer and a long-acting reliever in the same inhaler device.

Preventers:

  • must be used or taken every day, even when you don’t have any symptoms
  • may take several weeks to improve symptoms
  • will not relieve an asthma attack once it has started.

Some people need to use preventers for only a few weeks or months of the year, but other people need to use preventers all year round. If you do not get asthma symptoms and rarely use your reliever, ask your doctor to review your asthma medicines. Preventers should not be stopped unless advised by a doctor.

The aim of asthma treatment is to prevent symptoms. You should use your preventer or combination inhaler every day. Use your reliever only when needed. Always read and follow instructions carefully.

See a doctor or follow your Asthma Action Plan if you:

  • need to use a reliever more than two days a week
  • have daytime asthma symptoms more than two days a week
  • use the whole reliever inhaler in less than a month
  • have asthma symptoms during the night
  • find physical activity hard because of asthma
  • notice your peak flow readings getting worse
  • have an asthma flare-up.

At Fresh Therapeutics our pharmacists check your inhaler technique and help you select a spacer if needed. We also provide information about asthma and asthma medicines with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Self Care Fact Cards Asthma and Asthma medicine. The Asthma Fact Card includes an Asthma First Aid Plan with information about what to do in the event of an acute asthma episode.

Living with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinsons Disease | Fresh TherapeuticsThis week (10-17 April) is Parkinson’s Awareness Week. In Australia, Parkinson’s Australia is the national peak body and charity representing Australians living with Parkinson’s, and has a wide range of information sheets and advice available on their website: www.parkinsons.org.au

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS), and it is one of many neurological conditions. In Parkinson’s disease, nerve cells in the brain degenerate. There is no known cause, however there are many theories, and it is generally thought that multiple factors are responsible. Increasing age, being male and head injuries may increase the risk, while genetics may also play a role. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease have insufficient levels of the chemical dopamine. This lack of dopamine means people can have difficulty controlling their movements and moving freely. Impact on other body systems can also occur, such as on sense of smell, thinking and mood.

According to Parkinson’s Australia approximately 70,000 Australians live with Parkinson’s disease. The average age of diagnosis is 65 years. However younger people can also be affected, and the term ‘young onset’ is used for those diagnosed between 21-40.

Scientists and researchers have not yet been able to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, treatments are available to manage symptoms and assist people to live a fulfilling and productive life.

Each case of Parkinson’s disease is unique, with everyone exhibiting varying symptoms. For example, not all people get tremors and for some, the first symptom can be movement problems. Some of the main symptoms include:

  • tremor, or shaking
  • rigidity, or muscle stiffness
  • bradykinesia, or slowness of movement
  • freezing
  • stooped posture
  • shuffling gait

Parkinson’s disease can be disabling. However, there are many tools which can lead to better quality of life for those with Parkinson’s disease, and your local pharmacy can help.

With modern medicine, symptoms can be managed. The main aim of medicinal therapies is to increase the level of dopamine. As Parkinson’s disease affects each person differently it is important to individually tailor medicine regimens accordingly. As the disease progresses, and dopamine production is reduced, it is quite common for people to need their medicine regimes altered.

One of the key aspects of managing Parkinson’s disease is medicine management. Medicine must be taken at the correct time to allow for absorption time and the attainment of therapeutic levels. Factors such as diet also need to be considered when taking medicine. At Fresh Therapeutics our Pharmacists can assist you to gain the maximum benefit from the medicine, while keeping side effects to a minimum. Our pharmacists can help with advice and counselling – discussing what the medicine is for, what benefits should be expected, possible side effects and their management, drug interactions and how to keep an accurate record so information can be given to the doctor at each visit.  There are several medicines that can worsen the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and our pharmacists can provide a list of the medicines to watch.

People with Parkinson’s Disease may have difficulty swallowing which makes oral medicines difficult to take. At Fresh Therapeutics we can compound most medicines into a liquid or other dosage form to achieve drug levels to help manage the disease.  We also stock Gloup a medication lubricant that makes taking tablets and medications a more pleasant and safer experience for the patient.

At Fresh Therapeutics we can also provide home delivery and medicine management services such as dose administration aids (DAAs. Fresh Therapeutics can also be a point of contact to reduce social isolation and depression which can be experienced in Parkinson’s disease.

Our pharmacists can also talk through other problems that impact on Parkinson’s disease such as constipation, depression and falls.  We provide the   Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Self Care Fact Cards on  Preventing falls, Constipation and Depression and we can help with detailed information on managing the costs of medicine.